Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

song-rising**Spoilers.  I was lucky enough to get an Advance Copy of this book back in December.  Spoilers will happen in the review so be prepared.**

Well this is a game changer for the series.  We are getting to the Prisoner of Azakaban territory as we begin to expand the world and up the stakes.  Paige is now the Underqueen of the Unnatural Assembly but when Jaxon jumps over to the Rephaim side, she’s blindsided.  Not only does she have doubts about her abilities, her mentor is working with the enemies, giving them all of their secrets.  The Mime-Order’s partnership with the Ranthen is tenous at best.  She must first prove to the voyants that she is worthy to follow and to the Ranthen’s that she worthy to be funded.  After a disastrous mission to take down senshield, a device that can detect the auras of Voyants, Paige takes off to investigate leads in Manchester.  Trying to stay ahead of the evil military mastermind, Vance.  Nothing has been easy for Paige and that is definitely true but she really comes into her own.  Paige very much wants to what’s best for the voyant community and end Scion but she has to combat so many things.  She has to prove her worthiness to her people and to Ranthens.  Making things complicated is Jaxon, who many people still support and don’t believe that went over to the Scion.  Others see Paige’s youth as another drawback.  When Paige makes the mistake of acting on unproven intel and that makes sensheild even stronger, she has to move everyone underground.  Paige may not see it at the point but I think this was a pivotal point for her.  It proved her willingness to make the hard decisions but also it outsmarted her enemies.   Jaxon admits that even he couldn’t figure out where they disappeared too.  As the story plays out, we see more and more of cruelty of the Scion and how it’s not just the Rephaim who are committing it.  The introduction of Vance is an example of a human doing unspeakable things on other humans for advancement or for their own enjoyment.  It almost seemed like Vance sees her role as more of a game then anything else.  To me that makes her scarier then the Rephaim.  Samantha Shannon is getting better and better with each book.  It’s almost as a writer she is learning more about herself, as Paige is doing the same thing on the page.  The ending leaves as many answers as it does questions but also opens us to even more possibilities.  I will do my best wait patiently for book 4.

Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

fifth-season This was a very interesting book.  I can see why it won so many awards.  It is beautifully written and has a well crafted world that brings you in.  That being said, I did find it hard to get into at first.  I think it had to do with the sort of complicated world the characters inhabit and having three different narrators that seem to living in the same nation but not at the same time. As one is living at the end of the world, while the other two are not.  Once I was able to grasp that the timelines of the three narrators were different, it made it much easier to enjoy the storytelling.  The story begins as Essun, is mourning the loss of his son who was murdered by her husband for being an Orogene.  Orogenes are powerful beings that can derive power from the earth but are feared for this power because it’s unpredictable and can destroy as easily as it can save.  Damasaya is also an Orogene, who has been locked in her families barns after she was discovered.  And finally Syenite, a powerful orogene who has been given two different assignments that involve the most powerful orogene in the world.  Each narrator is different.  Damasaya is young and unsure of her future as she is afraid of who she is while Syenite is the opposite.  She knows exactly who she is and how good she is.  She is confident in who she is and ambitious to boot. Essun is definitely a woman who has seen and knows way too much.  She is strong but even the strongest of us breaks.  When her husband kills her son and possibly her daughter she is at a loss.  Soon revenge becomes her only motivating factor.  Essun’s story is also effected by the beginning of the Fifth Season. Every so often the Earth turns against the people and sets off catastrophic natural disasters.  Some season’s last years while some last decades. It’s clear to Essun that this season is going to last centuries.  So she sets off to find her husband while knowing the world is ending soon.  Syenite and Damasaya are not experience the same end of the world troubles that Essun is and at first this was confusing since both were headed towards or living where the disaster had occurred.  This was what made me think that the narratives were not all happening at the same time.  The narrators do not seem to have much in common beyond they are all women and orogenes but it when it’s revealed what there relationship it was a gut punch.  I didn’t see it coming.  I think that  is because it’s so well written.  You could literally get lost in the writing as N.K. tells these women’s stories.  They all have such hard struggles as they live and work in a very rigid society.  People of this world are separated into different Comm names and it defines who they are what they do. If you don’t fit in a Comm you are in trouble when the seasons come. They all must try to do their best to find their own voice while still playing by the rules and of course there are far more rules for women.  So even though it’s a fantasy novel, it’s still very much set in real life too.

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

first-grave I knew this before but my Mom has good taste because this book was delightful.  Charley Davidson is not just a Private Investigator, she’s also a Grim Reaper.  Sorry, not just a Grim Reaper, she’s THE Grim Reaper.  Which isn’t such a terrible job one might imagine. She just helps the departed cross over to the other side.  Also being the Grim Reaper and a PI, she is also her detective uncle’s secret weapon when it comes to solving crimes since she can see the dead and you know, ask them who killed them.  It sort of cheating but whatever.  When we meet Charley, she’s been called by her Uncle Bob to help her with a new homicide.  It soon develops into more then just a simple triple homicide but something all together.  Too complicate things even more, Charley has been having these super realistic dreams that may not be something more supernatural.  Charley now in a race of time to solve a mysterious deaths of her dead clients, figure out her dreams and stop people from trying to kill her over and over again.  Charley is smart, funny and sarcastic. My kind of person.  The cast of characters are fun and fill out the story but Charley is the real star of the story. She is strong and independent but still carries the scars of years people thinking she was crazy but it doesn’t stop her from keep trying to help people, dead or alive.  There is one case in here that is truly sad and heartbreaking and you really feel for not only Charley who truly felt she was helping but for her client as well.  Sadly, just like in real life not everything turns out the way we want them too.  That said, I’m really looking forward to the next book. If anyone is on the fence about this one, I say just jump in! Especially fans of Sookie Stackhouse.  There may not be Vampires, Werewolves and such but fill of supernatural beings, colorful cast of characters and wonderful female protagonist.

Scary and Spooky books to read before Halloween.

 

With Halloween just a few days away, I thought I would revisit some of the more scarier and spookier books I’ve read.  For all the books that I read that have vampires, witches and werewolves in them, not many fall under the horror genre.  So some of my picks don’t really fall into the typical Halloween fare but they are scary nonetheless.

scowler Scowler does fall in the horror category as it was super suspenseful and scary.  I picked this book up because I knew that Daniel Kraus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on Trollhunters.  The fact it takes place in Iowa an added bonus.  Ry and his mother and sister are barely scraping by on their farm and Ry is doing everything to distract him from the pain of the physical and emotional abuse of his imprisoned father.  Everything starts to fall apart when a meteorite falls and his father returns to the farm. Ry must defeat his father with the help of his imaginary childhood friends, including Scowler.  This book is super super creepy. With a scene at the end that still sort of haunts me when I thing about it.  It’s not just a great scary read but also delves into the effects of abuse has on it’s victims.  The fear of facing is ones abuser maybe as terrifying as taking on a monster but being able to face that fear takes real strength.

the-strain I admit that I still have nightmares from this series.  Particularly since I live in New York City and ride the subway through many of the same stations that they talk about in this book and I can’t help but wonder if they are vampires down there.  You may have seen the show. I haven’t so I don’t know how it compares but I can’t imagine it as scary or creepy as the book because I’m pretty sure most of the book is not cable ready material.  New York because the epicenter of a virus that turns people into vampires. Instead of the traditional being bite on the neck by a vampire to be turned, people are turned by little worm like things.  Gross.  Eph and his team at the CDC investigate several mysterious illnesses only to find themselves in the middle of a epidemic that deals with ancient vampires.  As they try to stay alive and figure out what’s going on and how to stay alive and not to mention dealing with family drama.  It’s the perfect scary series to read for Halloween. The ending of the series is truly heartbreaking.

coldestgirl Holly Black is one of my favorite authors.  She’s never boring.  Her books are never the same and truly original.  In the The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, whole cities have been quarantined off because of vampires.  Vampires have let’s say got out of control and in these Coldtowns vampires and humans leave together.  Some humans more willing then others as some had the misfortune of getting stuck inside when the walls went up.  Tana’s mother was bitten by a vampire and later died. After a wild party, Tana wakes to find that only she, her ex-boyfriend and a tied up vampire are alive.  The vampire virus takes a couple of days before it takes hold and Tana is determined to save herself and her companions by going to one of the Coldtowns away from her family.  It’s not your typical vampire story.  It was truly refreshing read and Gavriel is a vampire worth crushing on.

unfortunate-events Ok, so this is scary or spooky as the others but the make no mistake the story of the Baudelaire siblings is truly terrifying.  When their parents tragically die and they are sent to live with Count Olaf. Things get worse from there.  A Series of Unfortunate Events is truly an understatement as the unfortunate events are usually the faults of the adults they are put in the care of.  Violet, Klaus and Sunny are put in one bad situation after another from the very first book when Count Olaf tries to marry 13 year old to get a hold of their fortune.  Is there really anything more horrifying then that?  The first couple of books are a little formulaic but once you get to book five things really start to pick up and things get really scary.

What are your favorite Scary or Spooky books to read?

 

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted I can sum up how I felt about this book with one word. Meh.  Is that a word?  It started off slow but eventually picked up and I became interested but well meh.  It wasn’t that it was bad. I just thought it would be better.  Maybe that’s because both Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan, two authors who I love gave it such high praise on Goodreads that I had higher expectations for it.  So what’s it about? Every 10 years the Dragon comes down from his tower and takes one girl back with him.  The Dragon is the Lord of the Valley and a wizard, not an actual dragon as some stories say he is.  The girls he takes always come back changed but never say what they did while they lived in the tower.  The people continue to  do this because the Dragon helps defend them from the mysterious Wood that lies just beyond the Valley.  The Wood has a very mysterious evil about it that corrupts all that come in contact with it.  Agnieszka knows that her best friend Kasia is going to be the next one to be picked.  It’s common thinking that the Dragon always picks the most special girl out of her generation and it’s widely agreed upon that Kasia is that girl.  So it’s surprise Agnieszka who is not a great beauty or has any special talent beyond getting dirty is picked instead.

Setting this story up took  a lot of time and that’s what slowed down the pace of the story in the beginning but once it was able to get over establishing who everyone was, what the Wood was and why the Dragon does what he did, the story was able to move forward at a faster pace.  Agnieszka is a likable character.  She’s the typical heroine as she isn’t special on the outside but is on the inside.  Her relationship with the Dragon starts off antagonistic.  At first he really wants nothing to do with her and the same for her too.  We eventually learn that he picked her because he saw that she too had powers and it was his duty to teach her.  She isn’t really into the lessons until her village is under attack from the Wood and the Dragon is not around to help.  This is when things after speed up.  The plot starts to fill out.  We meet Prince Marek, who comes to the Dragon for help of saving his Mother who ran into the Wood 20 years ago and never heard from again.  The Wood ups it’s attack but and like most things the politics get in the way.  The Wood is crafty and is plays everyone perfectly and Agnieszka is always a step behind but still a step ahead from everyone else.  The battle at the end is a little bit anti-climatic after the previous battle but it’s a good ending.  So maybe I’m missing something but I thought it was good but not great.

Review: Civil War by Mark Millar

civil warI have to remind myself that the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is not the same as Marvel Comic Universe. The Captain America and Iron Man that we have grown to love in the movies are not exactly the same in the comics.  They may share some story lines, traits and beliefs but really they are different characters.  As is the story is going to be a different story then the movie.  For one thing thing, in the comic the story relies kinda heavily on the involvement of both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, both teams that do not exist in the MCU.  So the reasons why the registrations of Superhero’s is necessary had to be changed but the central argument seems to be the same.  To have a governing body to oversee superhero activities or continue to have autonomy on their work.  I can understand both sides.  On one hand, just because you have super human abilities does not mean you are or should be above the law and do what ever you like and then force other people to pay to clean up your mess.  On the other hand, you can’t force someone to work for someone without a choice of employers.Not everyone has the same prioritize and they shouldn’t be forced to submit to others.  I’m not sure how it’s going to play out in the movie since it doesn’t come out until Friday but I feel like the in the comic they were definitely more Team Captain.  Team Iron Man was doing all sorts of shady things.  Cloning older superheroes and creating new ones who will follow their directions.  Release super villains to track down the rebelling superheroes.  Who is supervising them?  The more I read the more I felt that people’s anger was misplaced.  What started it all was a few Mutants (were they actually X-men?) are filming a reality TV show.  They track down other mutants in Stanford, Connecticut. Even though they know they are out matched and they confront them anyway for the sake of better ratings.  They end up dying and taking with them a whole bunch of kids from a near by school. Now this is truly a tragedy but why blame all superheroes and not the producers and the network of the show that pushed them to get bigger rantings.  I haven’t read all the Civil War collections, as I see their are many, so maybe there are more to this then just that but it seems to me this is blaming all for the actions of few.  Say, like blaming the all Muslims for the actions of terrorist even though majority of Muslims live peaceful lives are are just as angry and appalled by the actions of Isis as everyone else.  Captain America, The Falcon, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four Spider-Man and so on are not going out looking for trouble they are only responding when there is.  That’s a big difference.  Maybe regulations should be made but this all of nothing solution that is presented in this is probably not the way.  I found this book to be enjoyable.  Gave me a lot to think about.  Not sure if if really prepared me for what’s to come in the movie since as I said in the beginning these are different beasts but I’m glad I did.